Outstanding young West Australians were honoured at the WA Youth Awards last week with local Huntingdale resident Habiba Asim receiving the Positive Achievement Award.
The 19-year-old used her experience of being bullied for wearing a hijab to school as a way of engaging and working with young people deemed at-risk.
Ms Asim said she was about 10-years-old when she first wore her hijab to school.
“The first day was great,”she said.
“Nobody said anything but then I remember I was at the drink fountain when a boy said to me, ‘Go back to where you came from you terrorist’.”
Ms Asim said at the time she had no idea how much that incident impacted her and it was only years later did she figure it out.
Ms Asim said she has harnessed her energy to do something positive by working for Save the Children, the Gosnells Youth Advisory Council and Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience as a mentor for young people, especially those coming from indigenous and ethnic backrgounds.
Although her hertiage is Pakistani Ms Asim also indentifes as New Zealander and Australian and has sometimes struggled to come to terms with her mixed background.
“For many ethnic youth they struggle to belong somewhere,” she said.
“They end up trying to be too Aussie or trying to fit in and abandoning where they are from.
“I think there is an identity crisis but I also think its okay to have multiple backgrounds and its okay to have both.”
Member for Southern River Terry Healy said the awards were a fantastic reminder of the positive contributions made by young people in the community.
He said Ms Asim was a positive role model for migrant young people in the electorate and beyond.